What to ask instead of: Where are you from?
Have you ever heard someone ask ‘Where are you from?’ Or perhaps ‘Where were you born?’
We know what they mean but here’s the thing – they often won’t get the sort of answer they’re looking for and rightly so.
A better question is one I’ve been using a few times a week for over 20 years. “May I please know your cultural or ethnic background?” And it’s worked a treat.
I’ve never had anyone get annoyed or refuse to answer. I can honestly say I’ve had a 100% success rate.
Interestingly, about 5% ask me to guess. And I’ve even had a taxi driver add: If you get it right, the trip’s for free. (Just for the record: I got it wrong.)
So if the occasion suits, and you want to engage and make people feel proud of their heritage, try asking: What is your cultural or ethnic background? It works for me.
All the very best,